Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 45. “This is the end,” my dear friend says, his voice threatening to crack. “She can’t get home?” I ask. “No. We’re talking oxygen, I.V., hospice. She’ll die in LA.” This news sucks the air out of my lungs and my chest constricts even though the woman who will die in LA is not my personal friend. She is Dear Friend’s friend. I have never met her, only heard stories about her in passing. She has stage four brain cancer. She’s been battling it for several years. She’s only 58. It seems as though this woman is fighting cancer and winning. She has nine lives. Barring a miracle, she’s on her last. In town for the technical Oscars, her health takes a drastic turn for the worse. Dear friend spends hours at the hospital, trying to be there for her and her daughter. Dear friend just also happens to be in the heat of pre-production on his latest film project. And he wonders why he had a meltdown this morning, was shutting down the project and moving to Hawaii to sell surfboards.
Dear Friend tells his life partner that their friend’s daughter is searching for a hospice care facility to see her mother through to the end. Apparently, the hospice options all include sharing a room with another terminally ill patient. Maybe they’ll just keep her in the hospital. At least this way she’ll have her own room. It has crossed Dear Friend’s mind that the dying woman and her daughter should just come and stay at their house, they have plenty of room, but this isn’t something you can request of your lover last minute if it’s not a family member. It’s simply too much to ask. Upon hearing the situation, Dear Friend’s partner quietly says, “That’s not right. They have to come to our house. She’ll die here with us.” As Dear Friend tells me this story, we both start crying. Any petty argument he might have with his life partner pales in comparison to the generosity in this gesture. All I can think is, “what a powerhouse team of love these two are.” Dear Friend comments how strange it is that the film is moving forward, just beginning really, and his friend is ending. “Death and birth, the cycle of life,” I say. “It never ends.” We hang up on a happy note about the director of photography he has just brought on board that he’s super excited about but the tone for the day has been set. We are lucky. Lucky to be healthy and alive. Lucky to have the opportunity to pursue our passions and our dreams.
Dear friend rings me later after I’ve returned from Trader Joe’s. Yes, you read that right. I finally made it to Trader Joe’s. The Valentine Fairy’s gift card was the catalyst. Thanks TVF. It’s no Whole Foods but they did have Udi’s gluten free bread just as joie de vivre friend said they would and I got like five big bags chock full of groceries for less than a hundred bucks. That takes a bit of the sting out of their lack of gluten free sugar free short bread cookies. Dear Friend is calling to share a nice story about synchronicity on his production crew team. Turns out the AC he wants knows the gaffer his new DP wants. He also lets me know that he has carried his dying friend into their house to her room where she will say goodbye to this life. Before we can get weepy again, Dear Friend says he has to jump off. He’s just arrived at another friend’s house. He’s helping her install some curtains or something like that for her baby room. I marvel at his energizer bunny beat and all the balls he has up in the air but mostly, I’m in awe of his incredible example of love in action.
As I reflect on my incredibly blessed day filled with joy and love and gifts and Trader Joe’s, I’m thankful that it’s not my time to die. And as I think outside the box inside the box I remind myself to start creating from the thing that I always have an endless supply of: love. It’s so powerful.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…the power of love.